Letters at Length

SOU's true motives have been exposed

SOU and the Oregon University System's actions with respect to Jefferson Public Radio have been presented in code words such as "potential conflict of interest," concern for the debt burden of JPR, and concern for competition for donors. Portions of the proposed "negotiated agreement" that had been presented to the JPR board have now been released to the public. With that "agreement," and the actions of SOU and OUS, their true motives are more easily guessed.

I assert that the true desire of SOU and OUS is to have control over the assets related to JPR. SOU's hardball, litigious and secretive actions, as well as the termination of JPR Director Ron Kramer, show that they don't have the interests of JPR as a first priority.

JPR has been dutifully managing its financial affairs, as a result of efficient and creative management by Mr. Kramer, as well as the support of thousands of listeners. That efficient management is now threatened as the result of legal fees triggered by SOU's actions.

At the same time, SOU is hurting financially for their own reasons, unrelated to JPR. SOU's proposed "agreement" shows how SOU would want to stack the JPR board with representatives from SOU. Lest anyone think that SOU having major control of JPR is appropriate, we all need to realize that SOU provides less than 6 percent of the operating revenue for JPR; and the JPR assets that SOU owns were all purchased by JPR, not the university.

The solution is simple: SOU should get out of the business of JPR. JPR has not been, and never should be, a revenue-generating auxiliary for SOU. I suggest that SOU lease or sell their JPR assets to JPR for a nominal (minimal) fee; let JPR move off the SOU campus; and let the JPR Foundation pay for their director and employee services.

This is a win-win solution. SOU would not have to pay JPR personnel; SOU would gain back their building space; SOU would not be put at risk by any financial ventures to which JPR is a party; and SOU wouldn't have to spend time fretting about conflicts of interest or other legal concerns with respect to JPR.

In the meantime, JPR could return to its business of providing high quality services to the state of Jefferson. During this "cooling off period" of negotiations, I challenge SOU to take the high road by being completely transparent with their motivations and actions, and to proceed in an open, non-adversarial manner to resolve this conflict as soon as possible. Perhaps by doing so they will repair their now-tarnished image.

Gordon Enns


Ashland Co-op keeps community informed

This is in response to a guest opinion that ran June 19. The writer complained that they were not consulted about Ashland Food Co-op's City Council agenda item about drive-thru windows.

First and foremost, I want to reiterate the Co-op's desire to keep the entire community informed of what is happening in all aspects of Co-op operations. We advertise, send out newsletters and frequently call community forums. There is a bulletin board and fully staffed information desk right inside our front doors. Staff and board members are very involved in the community with classes, lectures, community grants and support to community programs too numerous to name.

We have written and talked for some years about our desire to expand to the area now occupied by Umpqua Bank. The City Council agenda item involved paving the way for more environmentally friendly drive-thru windows in the same neighborhood. This would give Umpqua Bank the possibility of moving to any other new facility just as conveniently located.

As for being a "profit-seeking commercial enterprise": Well, yes, that's the definition of a retail business. But, speaking as a worker, I can vouch for the fact that the Co-op returns its profits to this community in many ways. My employee benefits are some of the best in the valley. Many of my co-workers are raising families based on their wages and family-friendly health insurance plans.

Prices, especially if you shop the Basic Pricing items, are very competitive and often lower than elsewhere. Many prices in the Health and Wellness department have recently come down in response to shopper requests. How many retail businesses will do this? And finally, I think you will find that management and floor workers alike are very interested in your opinions and concerns.

Come in and talk to anyone here. The next board meeting, which is open to all owners, is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8. We are here to support this community!

Judy Beyer

Ashland Food Co-op Owner/Worker

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